A mother and father decided to adopt a young girl despite people’s warnings. Even after being told the truth behind her identity, this couple insisted. Now, they’ve made the national news for the decision everyone told them was a mistake to make.
Bernie and Diane Lierow decided to add a daughter to their family after four of their five sons had grown up and moved out. Since the couple enjoyed having children around, they decided to open their home to a child less fortunate so they attended an adoption event. That’s where their lives would be forever changed because of one decision they made based on a single photograph.
While attending the event, Diane spotted a black and white photo of a little girl who was unable to attend. She was immediately drawn to the image of the girl’s face. However, caseworkers wouldn’t greet Diane’s curiosity about the girl in a way she would have anticipated.
Warning the couple that the girl in the picture wasn’t right and that there was “something wrong with her,” the couple persisted. That’s when they learned the horrific truth about the unimaginable neglect the young girl had suffered. In fact, her tragic background was so bad that caseworkers had basically deemed the child unadoptable. However, Diane and Bernie were undetered. Their determination would leave their life forever changed.
With the feeling that the girl was meant to be her adopted daughter just from looking at the one image of her, Diane persisted. She and Bernie began to learn more about the girl’s upbringing and story as caseworkers continued to encourage them to explore other options, but the couple couldn’t shake the connection they felt towards the girl. They soon learned that the child’s name was Danielle, and she had been found living in squalor in a Florida home. Her environment was so bad that, at the age of six, Danielle was basically a feral child.
Reportedly, Danielle had never left the decrepit home that was filthy and infested with bugs. She was unable to talk and couldn’t even eat solid food. Danielle’s case was so bad that the officer who found her said it was the worst he’s ever seen. “I’ve been in law enforcement for 27 years now, and this is by far, bar none, the worst case of child neglect I’ve ever come across in my career,” recalled Detective Mark Holste.
Danielle was sent to a group home after she was found, and her parents lost all parental rights due to the extreme neglect. The child was then put up for adoption, and even after learning the hard truth about her background and being repeatedly warned not to do it, the Lierows decided to adopt Danielle anyway. That decision garnered them national attention.
Prior to the adoption, Diane and Bernie visited Danielle at her school several times and say they knew raising her would not be easy, but they were willing to take on the challenge and the risk to give the neglected girl a chance at a better life. And, thank God that they did because Danielle has “already gone way beyond any of the expectations that any of the specialists had for her at the time that she was found,” as Diane explained.
In fact, Danielle, who is now a teen, lives on a Tennessee farm with her adoptive parents, where she not only goes to school but is learning things that many people never thought would be possible. She’s even communicating, although mostly through nonverbal means. What’s more, even though speech is still a difficult area for Danielle, she’ll greet Bernie occasionally with a “Hey Dad” and has even said, “I love you,” to her parents, proving that “she’s arrived at the place where she was meant to be,” as Diane said.
With great persistence and love from Bernie and Diane, Danielle made progress when professionals thought she never would or could. Because two people refused to give up on her or shy away from the challenge that raising such a traumatized child would present, that once feral child is now living a life that many thought was simply impossible.
If there was ever any doubt that love can conquer anything, Bernie and Diane Lierow proved it when they took in Danielle against all the warnings they were issued, loved her like their own through all of the challenges, refused to give up, and watched God do the rest. There truly are angels among us, and sometimes, people, like the Lierows, make the decision to be the miracle someone else has prayed for.